Surprisingly, my sister reveals that in high school, I experienced being bullied. My purpose of going to Dothan, Alabama, was to help a pageant girl in her first pageant, but also to share that with my daughter Stella and show her where dad has his roots. I always wanted to be Superman to my children and have always presented myself as a person of strength. Thus, I buried within me my own personal struggles.
When I was growing up, I was very skinny. When I was 15, I was 6 feet tall, and 120 pounds. I remember that only because it later showed up on my driver's license. When I was in the ninth grade, I wore shorts to pick up my report card and was greeted with a chorus of laughter and comments from my homeroom. Teasing kids on being fat we know is mean, but people never considered the self-esteem aspects of being skinny. With good intentions, my parents made me take karate because they were sure I could not physically take care of myself. While their intentions were honorable, they in turn reinforced the idea that I was deficient. So, I would not wear shorts in high school.
All that has changed and my personal journey enables me to now help others deal with their situations and develop the confidence they need for any situation. As I go to visit my sister — it's to reinforce that she is confident in her dress selection for her son's wedding. I know that she wanted my "blessing" and although she didn't need it, it was worth it for me to ease her mind. We all can do that so easily for others if we are just aware. We need to be aware of what we do has to empower and enable others.
Building confidence with Mary Virginia for her first pageant was fun and rewarding. She is a wonderful and delightful girl — but I had an additional self-confidence pressure. I really wanted her to feel successful because of the success of her older sister. They are just great people. I knew she could, but when I met her, I realized that she was totally oblivious to the pageant world. Empowering her to step forward and go through it was so rewarding. Developing her confidence to forge her own way and step out of her sister's shadow I hope is a lesson that every sibling that has an overachieving big brother or sister can do and gain from the episode.
Through laughter and a little Southern exposure, I hope we all see that we can be confident and take our experiences and positively influence others.
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